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BNZ to bring in nuclear free, tobacco free investment policy

Bank of New Zealand has developed a responsible investment policy which excludes companies involved in the production of cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines, nuclear weapons and tobacco or tobacco products from its international equity holdings, it said.

“In the last 3.5 years our funds under management have grown from $1.5 billion to almost $4 billion today, so we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our investment business,” BNZ head of wealth and private bank Donna Nicolof said in a statement. In the past BNZ invested in commingled funds alongside other institutional investors.

“One of our key investment beliefs is that risk and return are equally important and we have made the decision to exclude companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco on the basis that there is no safe level of use and engagement with these companies is futile. The regulatory and litigation risks faced by this industry are significant,” Nicolof said.

The investment policy at BNZ, a subsidiary of National Australia Bank, spans all investments it makes on behalf of customers and includes the investments of the BNZ KiwiSaver Scheme.

The move follows investor uproar last year after media investigations found New Zealanders had unknowingly invested $152 million in arms manufacturers and big tobacco companies through their KiwiSaver funds.

Earlier today the opposition Green Party said the government needs to set a clear deadline for when all KiwiSaver providers should have divested from companies involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs, landmines, and nuclear weapons. According to a report by Radio New Zealand four default providers – Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, Kiwibank, Westpac Banking Corp and Mercer – still had passive investments in such companies through global index funds.

“It’s time for the government to get tough on investment companies that are dragging their feet on ethical investment,” said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

Letter from New Zealand Associate Minister of Health on e-cigarette Regulations

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Smoking’s hidden costs

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Tobacco price rises cut smoking but some pay more than $40 a packet

The rapid rise of tobacco prices is seeing smokers change habits, say Nelson retailers.

However, there are diehard smokers, who say they cannot give up, paying more than NZ$40 for a packet of their preferred cigarettes.

At 10 per cent increase on cigarettes and tobacco products took effect this month, the first of four annual 10 per cent increases designed to help make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.


Smoking just a little more harder to take in with tax hikes on January 1 raising the price of tobacco products by 10 per cent.

The cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes will rise to about $30 in the next four years.

Independent retailer Mark Nicholson of Richmond Discount said the excise tax increases had “not negatively” affected his business.

But he had seen a shift in where people bought their tobacco, and a change from premium to value brands.

“They’ll come to us because it’s a bit cheaper and a bit faster, as opposed to regulatory [procedures] at places like supermarkets,” he said.

While he accepted there was a goal to reduce smoking rates in New Zealand, especially among young people, Nicholson said there were unintended consequences from the price increases.

Some of his regular clients were getting “hammered” financially due to their life-long habit.

“The bulk of our customers are aged, on a pension or fixed income, have smoked their whole life and when they started smoking no one was saying, ‘hey its bad for you’,” he said.

A Nelson smoker of 48 years, who did not want to be named, said he now had to pay NZ$46 for his preferred packet of 40 cigarettes.

“It’s not going to restrict me because I’m craving for the damn thing – I’m addicted and there’s nothing they can come up with any certainty that will knock the cigarettes off,” he said.

He said he started smoking when it was a common part of Kiwi culture, when the health effects were not fully known and there were no warning labels on packets.

Nicholson said another unintended consequence of price rises was to make tobacco products very attractive to organised crime.

As a result, Nicholson said businesses like his spent thousands annually on insurance and security to protect against those looking to cash in.

“The costs just get exponentially higher for us, the risks get exponentially higher and we have to do things to combat that, because you’re talking about a product that’s highly targetable and highly fencible.”

Manager of Fresh Choice Nelson City Mark A’Court said sales for cigarettes and tobacco were down this year.

“This is an ongoing trend for our store over the past few years, where we are 7 per cent down, but not in all supermarkets where tobacco sales actually [show] growth in sales dollars, not volume.”

A’Court said Fresh Choice’s prices were set by its head office and they did not get into discount lines as some stores had done.

Packets of 20 were being sold for between NZ$23- $27, while 30 gram pouches of tobacco were selling between $48-$53.

New Zealand is already one of the most expensive places to buy cigarettes in the world, behind Australia which also has strong pricing measures to deter smokers.

Online database Numbeo shows that a packet of 20 Marlboro cigarettes costs, on average, NZ$22.

In comparison, the same quantity costs NZ$26.04 in Australia, $NZ15.57 in Britain, $NZ8.99 in the USA and $NZ0.93 in Nigeria.

Smokers have declined significantly in New Zealand in the last 20 years with 17 per cent of adults currently smoking, of which 15 per cent smoke daily.

This has dropped from 25 per cent in 1996/97.

The New Zealand youth smoking rate dropped from 14 per cent to 6 per cent in the past 5 years.

The three key objectives of tobacco control activities in New Zealand are to reduce smoking initiation, increase quitting and reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

The national target is that 90 percent of Primary Health Organisation-enrolled patients who smoke have been offered help to quit smoking by a health practitioner in the last 15 months.

For the quarter between July and September 2016, Nelson Bays Primary Health sat third on the national table, with 92 per cent.

The cost of smoking: (Source: Quitline)

– Someone smoking a pack a day spends about $160 a week on cigarettes, which is nearly $8,500 each year.
– There are approximately 650,000 smokers in New Zealand.
– 4,700-5,000 New Zealanders die from smoking-related illness each year.
– Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand.

Legality of tobacco product in question

Two of the world’s largest tobacco companies are at odds over whether a new tobacco product being launched in New Zealand is illegal.

This comes after the identity of a mysterious tobacco product, which prompted concern on the part of a University of Otago academic, was revealed as a product called Iqos.

The Philip Morris product heats tobacco, rather than burning it. The Ministry of Health says it has contacted Philip Morris “in relation to activities relating to the Iqos product”.

A member of the public, who declined to be named, said they were at a launch party for the product in Auckland last month. There was free alcohol at the event, which he said was run by marketing agency Brand Spanking and another company. People were educated about how to use the product and given free samples.

After a story on the then-mystery product was published in the Otago Daily Times yesterday, British American Tobacco (BAT) head of legal and external affairs Saul Derber made contact to say it was not behind the product.

Derber confirmed the product was Iqos and said it was BAT’s belief it was illegal in New Zealand.

He pointed to the Ministry of Health website, which stated “heat not burn” products were considered tobacco products for oral use, and their sale was prohibited under the
Smoke-free Environments Act 1990.

BAT had a similar product on sale in Japan but did not have plans to launch it in New Zealand because it was not legal under New Zealand law, Derber said.

He questioned the way the product was launched and a job advertisement that stated it would be marketed throughout New Zealand. He would not be drawn over whether such activity breached rules banning tobacco advertising.

“All I can tell you is that we wouldn’t do that.”

He said the mystery product was not the “Voke Inhaler” mentioned as a possibility in yesterday’s ODT. It was not yet approved for sale in New Zealand and had recently been sold to a company not connected to BAT.

Philip Morris responded late yesterday, saying the section of the law referenced on the ministry’s website was put in place in the 1990s, to address American-style chewing tobacco.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with heated tobacco or e-cigarettes,” a spokesman said.

“Our product fully complies with all relevant legislation in New Zealand.”

The company was launching the product in New Zealand because of widespread interest in alternatives to conventional combustible tobacco products, the spokesman said.

Iqos could help the Government’s push to a smokefree 2025 goal, he said.

It was available in more than a dozen markets and in Japan alone, more than one million smokers had quit cigarettes and used Iqos. The man who was at the Auckland launch of Iqos, at The Wharf, said people were given the opportunity to try the product, which involved putting half-sized tobacco cigarettes in a device that heated but did not burn tobacco.

The man at the launch party likened the product to a cross between ecigarettes, which involve heating liquid often containing nicotine, and normal cigarettes and said there were mixed responses from those who tried it.

Ministry of Health tobacco control programme manager Jane Chambers said in an emailed statement the ministry was aware of the product launch.

“The ministry is concerned with any activity that actively promotes the sale or notifies the availability of any tobacco product.

“The ministry has contacted Philip Morris in relation to activities relating to the Iqos product.”

She said if the product contained tobacco, it was potentially illegal to market it at events and “educate” people about it.

The revelations come after a job advertisement sought 20 people to work for “experiential marketing” agency Brand Spanking and be trained regarding a new tobacco industry product.

Brand Spanking did not reply to follow-up questions yesterday. Director and creative strategist Mark Pickering said in an email on Wednesday night the agency “does not discuss client work with the media”.

– Otago Daily Times

Tobacco tax hike hits smokers hard

Making tobacco products more expensive to buy is a proven way to prod smokers into giving up the habit, Wairarapa list MP Marama Fox says.

The anti-smoking advocate said Quitline, the organisation that helps New Zealanders give up smoking tobacco products, received more calls when prices jumped up.

At the start of the year the cost of cigarettes rose 10 per cent, a move it will make annually until 2020.

It is a part of a bid to help New Zealand reach its 2025 target – to have fewer than 5 per cent of the population smoking.

“The ongoing impact on families with low income is the incentive to quit…” Ms Fox said.

“The cost to our families, through sicknesses and illness, exceeds the cost of cigarettes.

“If we can ensure our whanau have the right incentive and support to quit, then we can save our families the cost of the burden of illness and disease and the loss of our people through death.”

Ms Fox said she wants to see more voluntary smoke free communities in New Zealand.

She credited stores that refused to sell cigarettes as making “a brave move”.

“A number of vendors around the country have chosen not to go there, they see the benefits in the lives of their families, and they don’t want to be providing cigarettes for our whanau.”

Ms Fox believes we are on track to meet the 2025 goal, which she said has already been achieved in certain areas.

“We are already meeting that target in a number of communities, sadly, not Maori communities overall.

“The numbers of Maori smoking are coming down, it is slower than the rest of the population but it is continuing to decrease.”

Ms Fox said vaping and e-cigarettes should be used as reduced harm measures, encouraging people to ditch smoking cigarettes.

“We want to be careful when the introduction of this comes through… not to be enticing young people into something that looks cool,” she said.

Ms Fox said they should be a “cessation product first and foremost”.

Tax hike tipped to result in more smokers quitting

More Northland smokers are expected to give up after the latest 10 per cent hike on tobacco products kicked in yesterday. Northland health officials hope the latest 10 per cent rise in the cost of tobacco products will see more smokers try to kick the habit and say there is help for those who want to quit.

The Government’s latest tax hike on tobacco kicked in yesterday, with more scheduled on January 1 on each of the next three years.

Bridget Rowse, Northland DHB Smokefree Advisor, is urging smokers to beat the price increase and consider quitting this summer.

“Every year thousands of Kiwis escape their working lives for a few weeks for a summer holiday – epitomised by journeys to the beach, families and feasting, and of course the tradition of New Year’s resolutions,” Ms Rowse said.

“We’re encouraging everyone to make giving up smoking their resolution this New Year. It’s a great opportunity to begin that journey to a smokefree life.”

She said the aim was to put a stop to whanau dying needlessly from smoking-related diseases and while the cost of smoking has gone up, the cost of quitting hasn’t. An eight-week supply of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges costs as little as $5. By using patches, gum or lozenges smokers will double their chance of quitting for good.

Nicotine patches, gum and lozenges are safe, and contain only a minimal amount of nicotine, and come packaged without any of the 4000 chemicals – many of which are harmful – found in cigarettes.

“We know that most smokers would love to quit. Increasing tobacco tax is one of the best ways to reduce smoking.”

Previous tobacco tax increases have reduced tobacco consumption per capita by around a quarter and prompted thousands of smokers to quit.

“Some people may feel targeted, but the tax hikes send a clear and consistent message that, in the long-run, New Zealand was committed to drastically bringing down smoking rates,” Ms Rowse said.

Tax hikes are part of a number of measures designed to move New Zealand towards the Government’s goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025 – reducing smoking prevalence to less than 5 per cent of the total population.

More than 19,986 people in Northland aged 15-years and over smoke regularly – 19.1 per cent – compared to 15 per cent nationally.

To get help to stop smoking, talk to your doctor, midwife, Maori health provider or call Quitline on 0800 778 778.

Tobacco tax increase comes in today

Smoking gets more expensive from today: the tax on tobacco is going up by 10 percent.

The cost of a packet of cigarettes is currently about NZ$20.

It’s the first of four consecutive 10 percent rises coming into force on 1 January each year until 2020.

Roughly 15 percent of adult New Zealanders, or 550,000 people, are estimated to smoke daily, and smoking-related illnesses kill up to 5000 a year.

The cost of a packet of cigarettes is currently about NZ$20.

Quitline chief executive Andrew Slater said it was likely more people would stop smoking because of the price rise.

“Money and financial reasons is one of a number of reasons that people quit, and so we’re seeing an increase that the government announced last year that comes into effect today. And so that certainly motivates people to pick up the phone and start their quit-smoking journey.”

Mr Slater said he expected the number of calls to Quitline to double throughout this month and next.

Meanwhile, Quitline’s lastest freephone help service statistics show that nearly half of the people who gave up smoking in 2016 did so to improve their health.

Quitline says 45 percent of those who used its services to quit wanted to better their health, while 13 percent said they just did it for themselves and another 11 percent quit because it was too expensive.

Mr Slater said the proportion who quit for family reasons jumped to 9 percent.

“We’re seeing family, whanau and role-modelling for children increasing as a reason for people to quit and also just I think having children provides a great prompt for people to think about their health and make sure that they’re going to be healthy to see their children grow up.”

Over a third of pregnant smokers who contacted Quitline cited the need to be a role model for their children as the main motivation to quit, with improving health coming in second.

The Māori Party says stopping Māori women from smoking is on the government’s work programme for the year ahead.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said the goal is that by 2025 fewer than 5 percent of people will be smokers.

“There are many parts of New Zealand that have already reached that goal, one of the biggest areas that we need to look at though is Māori smoking, Māori women smoking and looking at the trial introduction of e-cigarettes and vaping as forms of cessation.”

Ms Fox said a change to the tobacco laws was being considered, to formally include e-cigarettes as part of quit-smoking moves.

300 smokers call it quits after tobacco tax hike

Smoking cigarettes and tobacco just got a lot more expensive with a 10% tax increase coming into force this morning.

That means, the average cost for a packet of cigarettes is around NZ$25. (HK$ 134.5)

While some Smokefree agencies are supportive they say government measures don’t go far enough.

Andrew Slater, CEO Quitline says, “So, so far today we’ve had over 100 people call us by lunchtime looking to enrol and get support for quitting smoking. We’ll expect to see that sort of hit around 300 people by the end of today.” The Māori tobacco advocacy service says while the law change seems unfair to Māori families it is for their benefit. Zoe Hawke, General Manager – Tobacco Advocacy Service, Hāpai Te Hauora says, “Having your health will be more financially beneficial in the end. You don’t want to be mauiui, you don’t want to end up in hospital with your whanau suffering and being sad that you’re sick.” But Hāpai Te Hauora claims the tax increase doesn’t go far enough. They’re pushing for a 20 percent increase.

Hawke says, “When it’s 20 percent, it may be at odd times during the year so people aren’t preparing for it then the shock of it helps people then to start planning for being smokefree.” But, the rising cost of tobacco isn’t the key reason why many are opting to quit the habit. Slater says, “What we know from our research over the last 12 months is around 45% of people actually quit smoking for their health followed by family and cost was the third reason.” Berdie Milner, Quitline Advisor says, “It deteriorates your health as well as the health of your family. It’s time to fix it and we can help you.”

The 10 percent tax increase will apply each year until 2020 in order to fulfil the government’s goal of a smokefree New Zealand.

Hāpai Te Hauora calls for stronger tobacco control in NZ

Smokefree 2025 is the Governments goal to make New Zealand essentially smokefree by 2025. By 2018 the daily smoking will need to fall to 10% and Māori and Pacific adult daily smoking rates to have fallen to 19% and 11% respectively. This means, by 2018 we are aiming for an estimated 58,000 smokers to have quit daily smoking, 27,000 will be Māori and 8,000 Pacific.

The NZ Health Survey, annual update of key results report was released today by the Ministry of Health and Hāpai Te Hauora find there is both urgent and wide-ranging tobacco control work to be done.

Hāpai Te Hauora CEO Lance Norman says “the smoking rate is decreasing too slowly.”

Norman raised in an earlier media release the disparities for Māori woman and Māori men and Pacific population groups. Now more than ever we need improved collaboration with Māori providers and communities. Both international and national experience shows that stop smoking services alone will not get all population groups to 2025.

The report repeats the fact that smoking continues as a leading risk factor for poor health that is completely preventable. Sadly, smoking continues as the main cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a major cause of heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and many other cancers causing early death and disease.

Hāpai encourages consideration of the social and economic complexities of health care for Māori and Pacific when planning for action, and supports regular and ongoing mass media campaigns, e-cigarette availability, coupled with a reduction in tobacco outlet accessibility.

Lance Norman applauds the authors of the report for providing more information on smoking amongst Māori that has long been discussed in communities and now evidenced and reported around systemic racism and interpersonal racism embedded in the historical context of colonization.

The current smoking rate (adults who smoke at least monthly) has fallen from 20% in 2006/07 to 16% in 2015/16, however that is only a reduction of 1% from last year’s prevalence at 17%.

The report shows that current smoking for Māori woman is 40% compared to 15% for European/Other woman. After adjusting for age, Māori woman were 3.5 times as likely to be current smokers compared to non-Māori.

The most substantial reduction in current smoking rates since 2006/2007 was for youth (those aged 15–17 years), for whom the rate has more than halved from 16% in 2006/07 to 6% in 2015/2016 however this is no change from last year when current smoking for this group was also at 6%.

Māori have the highest current smoking rate of 38.6%, Pacific at 25.5% compared to European at 14.5%. Although the Māori current smoking rate has not improved since last year, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day by Māori daily smokers has declined over the period 2006/07 to 2014/15.

Smoking by Māori men is reported at 37.3% an increase from the previous year’s 34.0%. Although we are not yet clear on how significant the upward movement for Māori men is, the change indicates a need for closer monitoring and further investigation. Māori women smoking at 39.7% shows no significant change.

Smoking is strongly linked to socioeconomic deprivation and Hapai Te Hauora like many other health providers understand the need to address the social determinants of health such as education, socio economic status, housing, internet access, access to a vehicle. Adults living in the most deprived areas are 3.1 times as likely to smoke as those living in the least deprived areas, after adjusting for age, sex and ethnic differences.

Hāpai Te Hauora the voice of Tobacco Control Advocacy encourages people to look closely at the recent New Zealand Health survey results to gain a full picture of the health of New Zealanders and explanations for persistent and unacceptable high rates of smoking amongst Māori.

At the very least it is imperative that New Zealanders know and understand that we have a Smokefree 2025 goal.